ATLANTA, Ga – An Atlanta city councilman is calling for an investigation into last week’s fire that destroyed an I-85 bridge.
C.T. Martin, chairman of the council’s transportation committee, is questioning why flammable materials were stored under the bridge without sprinkler protection or other fire hazard precautions.
“We need to know who is responsible for storing that material and what safety measures were implemented”, said Martin. “This incident has caused major adversities to our city; police and fire have been impacted with their ability to deliver emergency services as well as impacts on interstate commerce and productivity of our citizens who are sitting in longer traffic delays."
Basil Elbey was arrested on Saturday in connection with the fire, which resulted in the bridge's collapse. He is currently in Fulton County jail facing arson and criminal property damage charges, both felonies.
According to his arrest warrant, Eleby allegedly smoked crack cocaine under the bridge before he placed “a chair on top of a shopping cart, [reached] under that shopping cart and ignited it.”
The high-density plastic piping that then caught fire set off a series of events the city has never seen before. Why would non-combustible, yet highly flammable, construction material be stored under a major Atlanta thoroughfare?
"This should be a learning opportunity for something quite honestly until this event happened a criminal activity was not something probably that most DOTs were thinking about," said Georgia DOT commissioner Russell McMurry. "We certainly will be looking at all things to make sure we never have a catastrophic event like this again, nothing is off the table."
DOT officials admit the area was only secured by a chain link fence.
11Alive has also learned while this material can be highly flammable, there really aren’t any rules on how it should be stored.
Martin is also asking what was the direct cause of the blaze and if the city is still vulnerable at other locations in Atlanta, and wants Gov. Nathan Deal and the state to investigate.
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